Baltimore’s light rail system will be on a modified schedule beginning Sunday, July 10, in response to operator and rider shortages, Maryland Transit Administration officials announced Tuesday.
The system will be operating on a “modified Saturday schedule” during the weekdays, and trains will arrive every 15 minutes at most stations. Trains will still alternate to BWI Marshall Airport and Glen Burnie every 30 minutes to each south end destination, MTA officials said.
There will be no change to the weekend schedules.
The change comes as the department is seeing ridership remain low compared with before the coronavirus pandemic.
“We recognize the critical role that Light Rail and transit in general play in the lives of our riders,” MTA Administrator Holly Arnold said in a statement. “While we are disappointed that we have had to take this step, these temporary adjustments will ensure our riders can count on their scheduled train arriving on time. We are working diligently to return to our normal service level.”
Breaking News Alerts
The MTA plans to adjust the schedule during peak hours and special events based on passenger volume. The schedule will be reevaluated in the fall, officials said.
Twenty-six of the 79 operator positions are unfilled, according to Veronica Battisti, senior director of communications and marketing for MDOT. Twelve positions have been filled, and the new hires are currently in the eight-week operators class. To get candidates for the remaining 14 jobs, the agency is expanding recruitment forums and doubling the number of training classes, Battisti said.
“Our efforts to reach full staffing levels is an ongoing process, as we anticipate a gradual increase in staffing throughout this year,” Battisti said in an email. “We are committed to restoring regular service levels as quickly as possible to deliver the service our riders deserve.”
According to the job posting, operators can make $20.23 to $33.16 per hour.
“The Union is at the table with the Administration to help identify some core issues internally, look at new ways to give incentives for hiring, and improve employee and patron safety to increase ridership,” reads a statement from Michael McMillian, president of the union representing the operators, Local 1300 of the Amalgamated Transit Union.